Album Review: The xx – Coexist

Posted: September 12, 2012 in Album, Dyscyplynary Action, Music Review
Tags: ,

Artist: The xx

Album: Coexist

Release Date: September 11, 2012

Record Label: Young Turks

Love is a wonderful concept.

It is one of those things that can take you higher than you can ever imagine in life: Your days looking bright and hopeful, endless streams of smiles, and an inner-being that can be damn near unbreakable. Then there is the opposite effect of it that can make you crash down to the deepest abyss. There you are left with despair, bitterness, confusion, and an unquestionable amount of anger. We never know how our feelings will reflect while listening to music and there are not that many bands that can convey love lost and heartache as much as The xx.

Breaking onto the scene in 2009 with their amazing self-titled debut, the London trio of Romy Madley-Croft, Oliver Sim, & Jamie Smith captivated listeners with their simple, yet elegant structure and turning tales of depression into buoyant tunes.  Since the three year gap, the band took a break while amassing popularity while Jamie went on to have a successful solo stint working with notable musicians in Drake and the late Gil Scott-Heron. Taking that time off brought progress to Smith as a producer, who looked to bring a new feel to the band’s second effort, Coexist. Here the band strips down the simplicity and make a sound that’s sleeker.

Take the opening track “Angels” for instance. It starts with a melodic chord from Croft’s guitar as she sings, reminiscing a vibrant love. Along with Smith’s shift in direction with drum patterns and exploring the house sound he fell in, Sim and Croft have seemingly improved as songwriters and with chemistry. With “Chained” being one of the standout tracks, the duo have grown accustomed to their formula, never breaking away but not sounding redundant. It is easy to get lost into the keys of “Fiction” and swooping synths of “Try”, as it is musically stronger and more cohesive than its predecessor. However, the album lacks certain intangibles with their simplicity that made xx so special.

The reflective “Sunset” draws close to one of the best tracks on the album, as lyrics speak on the distancing of a recently split couple (I always thought it was a shame/that we have to play these games. It felt like you really knew me/Now it feels like you see through me). It also shows some of the more versatile work of Jamie’s production, flipping percussions and transitioning, though keeping it as terse as possible. The cohesiveness of this album is apparent, as the songs flow easily from one to the next, taking an alluring trip

Croft spoke with Fader magazine on how this album is “further down the road” conceptually. And that’s where the theme plays off from it: Growth in learning lessons from the past and continuing to build off of it. With Coexist, this is a more mature look into themselves as musicians and individuals.  For listeners new and old, it can be that hump in coping with the weird world of love and relationships. It is all in the matter of time and The xx have plenty of that in their disposal.

Rating: 8/10

Highlights:

  • “Angels”
  • “Chained”
  • “Sunset”
  • “Tides”
  • “Swept Away”
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